boat has now been sold, but was a genuine "first",
to our knowledge, and a unique opportunity to acquire
a classic aluminium-hulled Simmonds with 21st Century "green" credentials.
seeing many years service as a ski boat at
Teignmouth in South Devon, the
boat was discovered in a field by her current owner
about four years ago.
Although in a very sad state of neglect, the hull
was essentially sound, even though the non-original
engine was a total loss.
first task was to remove the scrap engine. This
was not a genuine marinised Simmonds unit (usually
based on the Ford Consul four-cylinder), so
there was little point in attempting to salvage
anything from the installation. In addition, the
original engine cover had also suffered at the
hands of whoever installed the engine, and would
also need replacing. With both gone, the new owner
was left with a significant
gap in the middle of the boat, and a challenge
on his hands.
recent years some Simmonds have had non-original
engines installed, including one with a diesel
unit, but this is the first time anyone has decided
to go electric. By adapting the original engine
mounting points, a Lynch
Motor Company LMC D135
permanent magnet DC electric motor was installed,
driven by a 48 volt DC battery system.
The "pancake" motor is typically used to propel
lightweight electric vehicles, such as golf buggies
and city cars, and uses the relatively high voltage
to achieve significant torque and
efficiency from a very lightweight,
compact design. The motor weighs just
over three kilos, yet generates around 15 hp and
4.35Nm of torque. A new prop shaft and
flexible coupling linked to a three-blade propeller
complete the boat's whisper-quiet transmission.
the motor was installed, the hull was completely
restored, right down to bare-metal. All
the old paint was removed to reveal the aluminium
shell, which was checked for faults and weaknesses
before being given three layers of undercoat and
a final colour top-coat in pale cream and ivory.
battery compartment contains four 12 volt batteries
linked in series, and encloses all the electrical
control, battery recharging and operating equipment.
The original steering wheel was renovated, but
the new owner went to the expense of having a number
of the unique Simmonds components recreated from
scratch. These included replacement windscreen
pillars and rudder shaft quadrant (although casts
for keel fin and propeller end bearing were also
taken), which were all remodelled and freshly
cast for this restoration. New Perspex screens
were fitted and the steering mechanism was re-cabled.
To finish off, the cockpit seating was completely
of the delays in completing the restoration was
sourcing suitable analogue dashboard gauges for
a 48 volt system, such as voltmeter, ammeter and
battery condition gauge. After nine months diligent
searching, these were eventually sourced from the
United States. The
boat has also been treated to a brand new trailer.
boat returned to the water for the first time in
2010, and performed
beautifully. With no clutch to contend
with, and offering both forward and reverse (in
itself, something of a novelty on a Simmonds!),
the electric drive is very responsive, and offers
silent, fume-free running. Although lacking the
top-end performance of the original four-cylinder
petrol engine, the electric Simmonds still returns
an easy cruising speed of around 15 knots
at part throttle, but given open water is likely
to exceed this fairly easily. For anyone looking
for a boat with classic lines to use on inland
waters, especially those with speed and noise restrictions
such as the River Thames, then this Simmonds offers
the perfect compromise of style and efficiency.
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